• <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Euclid, <i>Elementa geometriae,</i> first edition, Venice, 1482. $60,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Sir Isaac Newton, <i>Opticks,</i> first edition, London, 1704. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Jean-Baptiste du Halde, S.J., <i>Description... de l'Empire de la Chine,</i> first edition, Paris, 1735. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Werner Rolewinck, <i>Dat boek dat men hiet Fasciculus temporum,</i> first edition in Dutch, Utrecht, 1480. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Eckenstein and Lorria, <i>The Alpine Portfolio,</i> first edition, London, 1889. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Johann Theodor & Johann Israel de Bry, <i>Pars quarta Indiae orientalis,</i> first edition, Frankfurt am Main, 1601. $1,500 to $2,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Charles Darwin, <i>The Descent of Man,</i> first edition, London, 1871. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Jonathan Swift, <i>Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,</i> first edition, London, 1726. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Rodrigo Zamorano, <i>Compendio del Arte de Navegar,</i> Seville, 1588. $20,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>William Shakespeare, <i>A Winters Tale,</i> first edition, London, 1623. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Pedro de Medina, <i>L'Arte del Navegar,</i> first edition in Italian, Venice, 1554. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Hans Meyer, <i>An Account of The First Ascent of Kilimanjaro,</i> first edition in English, London, 1891. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Leaves from<br>George Washington's Own Draft <br>of His first Inaugural Address. An Extraordinary Rarity!
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Contress Authorizing Alexander Hamilton to Complete Famous Portland Maine Lighthouse.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Emanuel Leutze. Silk Flag Banner designed by Leutze, created by Tiffany & Co., and presented to Gen. John A. Dix, 1864.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The "greatest of early American maps … a masterpiece" (Corcoran). Thomas Holme.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Summons His Cabinet for a Historic Meeting to Discuss Compensated Emancipation.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph Letter Signed. Einstein Counsels His Son ... Meaning of Life.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Normal Rockwell. Painting/Drawing Signed. Rockwell's "Barbeshop Quartet", 1936.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Frederick Douglass. Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. Washington, D.C.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Harry Truman. Autograph Manuscript Notebook for Kansas City Law School Night Class.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph Letter Signed, June 11, 1782. Hours after the Battle of Culpeper Court House, Lee Escapes Again.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington. Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782.
  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (AMERICAN WEST.), Watkins, Taber, Savage, and others. <i>Magnificent Album of Mammoth Photographs of the American West, with other subjects various,</i> ca. 1865-1880s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. <i>The Meaning of Relativity,</i> signed by Einstein. London: Methuen, 1922
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> CARTER, SUSANNAH. <i>The Frugal Housewife</i> (1772) 2d cookbook printed in America.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true originall copies.</i> The second impression. London: by Tho. Cotes, for Robert Allot, 1632
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (BROOKLYN). <i>An Act to Incorporate and Vest Certain Powers in the Freeholders and Inhabitants of the Village of Brooklyn, in the County of Kings.</i> Brooklyn: Printed by A. Spooner, 1816
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> PAINE, THOMAS. <i>Common Sense</i> (1776) first edition sheets.
  • <b>Sotheby’s Paris: The Hunting Library of the Counts du Verne. 5 October.</b> The Largest Collection of Hunting and Falconry To Appear on the Market for the Last Thirty Years.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris Oct. 5:</b> Jacques du Fouilloux. <i>La Vénerie</i>. Poitiers, 1561. Est. €100.000 – 150.000
    <b>Sotheby's Paris Oct. 5:</b> Gaston Phébus. <i>Déduits de la chasse des bestes sauvaiges et des oyseaux de proye</i>. Paris, circa 1507. Est. €150.000 – 200.000
    <b>Sotheby's Paris Oct. 5:</b> Pierre et François de Gommer. <i>L’Autoursserie</i>. Chaalons, 1594. Est. €30.000 – 50.000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris: The Hunting Library of the Counts du Verne. 5 October. The Largest Collection of Hunting and Falconry To Appear on the Market for the Last Thirty Years.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris Oct. 5:</b> Pierre Landry. <i>Quatre scènes de chasse à courre.</i> Paris, circa 1680. Est. €2.000 – 3.000
    <b>Sotheby's Paris Oct. 5:</b> Conte Henri de Vibraye - Baron Karl Reille. <i>La chasse à courre.</i> Paris, 1951. Est. €3.000 – 5.000
    <b>Sotheby's Paris Oct. 5:</b> Duc de Brissac - Paul Jouve. <i>Chasse.</i> Paris, 1956. Est. €30.000 – 50.000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2008 Issue

The Government Faces Off Against a Collector for a Declaration of Independence

Wiscasset

Turn of the Century Wiscasset, from the period when the Declaration was in the home of Town Clerk Sol Holbrook.


By Michael Stillman

Another case involving "lost" public documents is playing out in a Virginia court, the type of case we both hate to see and expect to see more of in the days ahead. It pits a public authority against an innocent collector, the latter standing to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of a purchase made in good faith. There must be a better way.

The item is a copy of the Declaration of Independence, not the first printing, but a very early one, from 1776. It was printed in Salem, Massachusetts, and apparently went to the Town of Pownalborough in what was then northern Massachusetts. The town is today known as Wiscasset and what was then northern Massachusetts is now known as Maine. Somewhere along the way, as Massachusetts lost Pownalborough and Pownalborough lost its name, Wiscasset lost its copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Today it is in the possession of Richard L. Adams of Virginia. Obviously, he believes he is the owner. He would not have paid $475,000 to borrow it for a few months. Exactly what happened to it between 1776 and 2008 is not certain, but here is what appears to have occurred over the last hundred years or so. It apparently was held by Sol Holbrook, a watchmaker by trade who was Wiscasset's Town Clerk from 1886-1929. It may sound odd, even questionable, that a town clerk would have had important public papers in his home, but those of us who have lived in small town New England will not be surprised at all. These towns would have had few, if any, public facilities, and no place to store the reams of public papers that accumulated over a century and a half. The one person who would be most likely to ever need any of these records would be the Town Clerk, so it is quite natural that they would end up in his house. And, while there might be some call for town minutes or the like from the past decade or so, the need to access records from the distant past would be negligible if not totally nonexistent. Most likely, the records, which included this Declaration of Independence, made their way to Holbrook's attic quite early in his town clerking career, and never saw the light of day again.

After Holbrook died, no one came to reclaim the records for the town. It is likely after all of those years no one knew what he had, and no one cared. So the records ended up in the attic of Holbrook's daughter, Anna Plumstead. It's doubtful either she or her father ever had any idea there was something valuable in there. When she died in 1994, her belongings were put up for auction, and that was when it became clear there was something of value. At that 1995 estate auction, it sold for $77,000. Since then, it has gone through a couple of private sales, at one time being held by London bookseller Simon Finch, before making its way to Adams. Now, Adams wants to sell it, and the State of Maine, which somehow missed the auction in Maine in which it was sold, has hightailed it down to Virginia to seize the copy.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. Sept. 21, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> WARREN, JOSEPH. Letter Signed ("Jos Warren") as Chairman of the Committee of Safety. Cambridge, MA, June 4, 1775.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> WHITMAN, WALT. Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn, NY: [for the Author], 1855.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> JEFFERSON, THOMAS. Printed Broadside Signed ("Th: Jefferson") as Secretary of State. Philadelphia, February 12, 1793.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> CELLINI, BENVENUTO. 1500-1571. Autograph Letter Signed ("Beto. Cellini"). [Florence, c.1566].
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. Sept. 21, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. Autograph Manuscript. [c.1795].
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> DICKENS, CHARLES. Great Expectations. London: Chapman and Hall, 1861.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> REED, JOHN. To the Honourable House of Representatives of the Freemen of Pennsylvania this Map of the City and Liberties of Phiadelphia With the Catalog of Purchasers is Humbly Dedicated.... [Philadelphia]: engraved by James Smit
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> ELIOT, THOMAS STEARNS. The Waste Land. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922.
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel. Sept. 20, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 20:</b> PTOLEMAEUS, CLAUDIUS. 2nd Century. Untitled Ptolemaic Map of the World. [Insculptum est per Johane Schnitzer de Armszheim.] [Ulm: Leinhart Holle, July 16, 1482.]
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 20:</b> HONDIUS, JODOCUS THE YOUNGER. 1597-1651; JOHANNES JANSSONIUS, PUBLISHER. 1588-1664; ADRIAAN METIUS, ASTRONOMER; & ABRAHAM GOOS, ENGRAVER. A Pair of Library Globes. Amsterdam: 1623, 1648.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 20:</b> HAKLUYT, RICHARD. 1553-1616. The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nations, made by Sea or ouer Land, to the most remote and farthest distant Quarters of the earth at any time within...
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 20:</b> WARRE, HENRY JAMES, SIR. 1819-1898. Sketches in North America and the Oregon Territory. [London]: Dickinson & Co., [1848].
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 20:</b> SPEKE, JOHN HANNING. 1827-1864. Manuscript map, ["Sketch Map of Eastern Africa, Shewing the Various Routes travelled by the Expedition"], 230 x 255 mm, n.p., c.1858.

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